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The Prince of Hyper-Grace and the Importance of Doctrine

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Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.  - 1Timothy 4: 16 (NIV)

It has become vogue in modern Christendom to look the other way in the face of false teaching. To nod and wink and call the false prophet a brother who may have some errors in his or her teaching. It seems in the realm of preaching that we can fall into the trap of being more concerned with protecting the preacher than the followers. Verses on unity are abused to support this end, while millions of people sit on the broad path leading to destruction singing kumbya. Please realize that this is not an exercise in personality or intent. We must start with the understanding that there will be many charismatic, genuinely nice people, who had the best of intentions, yet still led thousands upon thousands to hell. 

The key verse contains the words of the Apostle Paul to his protege Timothy. Note that possessing correct doctrine is directly correlated to the salvation of himself and those that would hear his preaching. Sure, you can get by for awhile under false teaching because rarely is everything false. There is always truth mixed in and with the more dangerous theologies there is a lot of truth. It causes the listeners to allow some of the leaven to pass by unquestioned. Enough leaven however eventually poisons the entire batch. The old Christian adage about eating the meat and spitting out the bones is a dangerous notion. First of all if the bone is rotten - why would you trust the meat? Secondly, we may catch the bigger bones of false teaching but eventually the smaller ones might get past us and we will still end up choking on them. 

So we come again to the guru of the hyper-grace movement, Joseph Prince. I have written about him before and debated many who fall on his side of the argument. Those arguments are usually always carnal however because Prince routinely departs from Scripture and solid hermeneutics to prove his gospel. I say his gospel because he is fond of saying that he has been given a "gospel of grace" by God to preach. The Lord is certainly grace but the Gospel is so much more. The real danger of Prince is the same dangers we see with topical sermonizing. When you start with a preconceived premise and then use the Bible to prove it - you are no longer allowing God to speak through His Word. It is an easy trap to fall into. The Bible covers every subject we can imagine so if we start with a subject we can find something in the Bible to support our position. That is not preaching however. That is using the Word of God to prove you are right instead of using the Bible to allow God to speak. I will give you a personal example. I once decided I wanted to write a devotional on righteous anger because I was angry about a situation at church. I did not approach the Bible however trying to prove my point but rather to see what God had to say. By the time the Holy Spirit was done with me, I had a devotional about how my anger was not righteous - it was all my flesh - and how high the bar is set by Jesus for righteous anger! 

Now, I had heard Joseph Prince misuse Scripture before to prop up his position on hyper-grace. I had in fact written about one such sermon. As I listened to others who supported prince I tended to stay away. Then I was flipping through what passes for Christian television last night and caught the end of a show on TBN where Prince was the guest and he was explaining his divine revelation on the famous lukewarm verses from Revelation.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  - Revelation 3: 15-16 (NIV)

The first problem is Prince's propensity to claim divine revelation instead of simply expositing the verses. In order to pass over the actual meaning of the verses and arrive at support for his hyper grace position, Prince claims God is to blame. That this is what God showed him. Nonsense. On the show, Prince said that those that are hot are referring to those under the new covenant and those that were cold referred to the tablets of Moses and were under the law. Thus the "lukewarm" were actually those that insisted on mixing grace and law. This is a staple preaching point in Prince's hyper grace theology. To sum up, Prince said that Jesus would rather have you cold under the law because then at least it would drive you to Him or hot under grace but not mixing the two. This of course is a ridiculous assertion not supported in Scripture overall, let alone from these actual verses. 

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